Note: This travelogue is based on a trip I took to Sicily in 1995, so the pictures and information are rather dated and may not accurately reflect the modern appearance. I welcome updates and corrections.
As you notice from my travelogues of places such as Veyrier, Mittenwald, and Cologne, I like going to high elevations and peering down at the scenery. (Many of my prized photos come from such high places.) Such an affinity began early in my traveling career, and the cliff-edge Sicilian town of Taormina was probably where it began. Taormina is an ancient Roman town built on the top of a cliff facing directly over the Med. It is an amazingly scenic place, making me wonder about the amount of effort needed to built it in the first place!
Getting to Taormina by car is a bit of a challenge. The road is very narrow and winds tightly up the face of the cliff. There are some great places to pull off and take photographs, so be sure to take advantage. I seem to recall that we had to park the car on the road, not able to drive into town, but my memory is shaky. I do recall that we walked a long ways up to the town, passing by a Catholic funeral procession on the way.
One of the first things you will encounter is a palace and garden. The palace is shown in this photo, and it is overlooking the Meditteranean below. The garden gate is very ornate and pretty, and the red and purple flowers were in full bloom. My travel companion and I found the garden a welcome respite from the climb.
Taormina is very active as a center for the arts. There are a number of theaters, music houses, etc. that run year round, and folks at the tourist information booth are very knowledgeable about the shows available.
The town itself is very pretty, and well decorated with flowers and desert plantlife, such as seen in this photo. The entire town seemed to be built on an angle, loaded with one-person-wide alleys containing 20-degree staircases. Several of the photos I took of buildings had the street level at the first floor on the left of the photo but up to the second or third floor on the right. So be forewarned, even if you manage to get your car up to the center of town, be prepared for some serious mountain climbing!
But unquestionnably the grandest attraction in Taormina is the Roman Amphiteater, pictured here. As you can see, the Amphitheater mixes the old with the new -- the modern stage and front row seating with the awesome and majestic spread of ancient columns and traditional Roman stone bleachers. The Amphitheater hosts the town's marquee events. Making the experience even that much more awesome is the view of the Meditteranean from the back of the stage.
Views over the Med are plentiful from Taormina proper. Along the outer edge of the city, you will find plenty of airplane-window-style views such as the below. Those dinky white specks are boats, by the way.
Taormina was just a wonderful day trip. The combination of scenery and history left an indelible impression on me, and made me appreciate even more my later Meditteranean voyages to places such as Marseille. When traveling to Sicily, be sure to reserve plenty of time for Taormina!
Trip taken 28 August - 9 September 1995 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin